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This book was a wonderful surprise. As I am listening my way through all the Agatha Christie books that I read 35-40 years ago, they have so far all been narrated by the great Hugh Fraser. I mean no disloyalty to him when I say that just having listened to "Black Coffee," narrated by the late John Moffatt (one of the actors who played Hercules Poirot over the years) all I can say is, "Wow"!
Agatha Christie originally wrote this as a play, rather than a novel, somewhat of a departure from her usual style, and Charles Osborne has put it into book form. Many years ago I actually saw the play. (Can you tell I have been a life-long Christie devotee?) As well as I recall it, I think this book is quite faithful to the play--I believe it has kept the same plot/characters/development. This is a "classic Poirot" where he actually does line all the family members up at the end to do his wonderful thing of announcing how the murder was committed, and by whom. Very pleasing to old mystery readers like myself.
The premise of the book is that Sir Claud Amory, a scientist who has been working on a secret formula for something that has the potential to become a more powerful weapon than any currently available, has reason to believe that someone in his own household wants to steal it. So he hires Poirot to come to the house and help detect who that is. Unfortunately he arrives just in time for Amory's murder.
This book lays out the plot well, has very good character development, neatly suggests (or leaves the reader guessing) the various possible reasons any person could have killed Sir Claud, and it all flows as well (if not better than) any Christie herself could have written. I think he was largely faithful to Christie's own language and style. My only regret is that I believe he made Poirot a *tiny* bit more pompous and narcissistic than Christie portrayed him, and left me feeling sad with the way Poirot made fun of poor Hastings. I know there was a slight suggestion of that in Christie, but I don't recall it being as strong as Osborne has made it.
But if you listen to this book for no other reason--I would recommend that you do so just to hear the extraordinarily talented John Moffatt read the whole book, but especially the role of Poirot. It was just stupendous! There were opportunities throughout the book to speak English (mostly), French and Italian. And as far as I could tell, he spoke all three with perfection. But mostly he was able to capture the nuances of tone that left no doubt that is was, indeed, Poirot who was the main feature of the book. I'm not planning to abandon listening to Fraser, for whom I have great fondness, but I certainly am planning to listen to more of the Christies read by Moffatt. His narration was the true gem of this book.
I've listened to, and liked, several books in this series, but this one really seems to hit its stride. While all seem helpful, I like that this one moves at a good pace, and is quite useful on a practical level. One note--not for beginners, though you don't have to be very advanced. Even though they explain the vocabulary and grammar involved, it seems to me it would have been a challenge not to have known both beforehand. I think this is a great review for creating conversation in french.
My only regret about this story is that the books available to listen to only begin mid-series. Many years ago I read several of Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma books and thoroughly enjoyed them then. I find that now, hearing this one, it is as interesting and fun as I thought before. Caroline Lennon is a very good narrator who does well with different voices.
This book concerns Fidelma and her companion/husband Brother Eadulf, who are called to Aldred's Abbey in East Anglia, under mysterious circumstances in the deepest cold and snow of mid-winter. They quickly encounter murder, madness and great suspicion there, as they are forced to remain due to Fidelma's unexpected illness, and Eadulf's strong wish to solve the murder of his friend.
The book has much of historical interest about it. The author (I think) took a few liberties here and there that led to some anachronisms (for example, I doubt that people wrote notes to themselves on scraps of paper in the 7th century), but somehow I didn't mind them. They simply help hold the story together in a more interesting way. I would compare this series a bit to the Brother Cadfael books, though I believe earlier in time. If you like mysteries that will hold your interest without too much blood and gore, have well-drawn characters, and do not require exact authenticity, you might enjoy this. I was quite happy to see this series at last available on Audible.
This is a pretty good mystery, about a man who is a college librarian who keeps a huge Maine coon cat named Diesel. Unlike another well-known series where the cat itself always solves,the mysteries, Diesel provides a loving companionship to Charlie and the young man who is a boarder at his house. He is always present everywhere, but you don't have to suspend belief here, because it is the humans who are solving the crime. Though the characters are a bit stilted in some,ways, and seem too "good" to be believable, it was a fun read. The narrator was okay for the most part, but for some reason this series appears to keep a female voice for a male protagonist. Looking ahead, I noticed they switched narrators for some reason, and still don't have a man reading it. Takes some getting used to. I intend to listen to the next one, but with expectations altered. Characters are a bit too "nice," which left them a bit one-sided. But if you are looking for a comfortable read, without unnecessary sex and violence (which can be refreshing), this is a good book. Despite all that I felt about the lack of character complexity, the plot was delightfully absorbing. I listened to it almost non-stop. And had a good surprise at the end.
This was a rather good book. Quite well-written and the narration was excellent. In one respect, it is like a coming of age story. Henry Griswald, now an old man looking back over certain events in his life during his adolescence, reveals tantalizing clues to both his understanding of the adults in his life, and a mystery that involves the students and teachers in a private boys school of which is father is the headmaster. The author has done a good job of revealing the interior worlds of the characters through Griswald's understanding of what happened, looking back from half a century later. I was fascinated by the way little pieces of what he recalls completely (and repeatedly) changed my thoughts about what was taking place, as he slowly tells a story of a passionate mystery and the morals of an early 19th century small town in New England. This book had a surprises everywhere, even it's last paragraph!
Listened to the first book and enjoyed it a lot. This seemed a disappointment by comparison. I had difficulty distinguishing voices of characters in the narration. The story is basically interesting enough for a historical cozy. But I had hoped for more.
I have always loved Eleanor (Alienor) of Aquitaine--she has sort of been one of my favorite historical characters, and I read everything I find about her. So when I saw Elizabeth Chadwick's book featuring her story, I eagerly got it.
So--for me--and this is just my opinion--it's kind of a wavy-hand thing.(had good points and less good ones). It is a well-written and very interesting book. I don't typically read romance novels, and I realized that's what this would be when I got it, but I think in future I'll look for either historical biography or (maybe) a romance novel. I actually found it fun to listen to--even my husband liked it. But I felt that it might have been a little much to turn this exciting woman of history into a romantic/sexy sort of heroine.
So how can I explain this? I really liked the book. I really love reading about the historical Alienor of Aquitaine. I guess I would prefer, at the end of the day, to have read a more strictly biographical account of her. But that's just my taste--I can really say that the book is good. If I just wasn't trying to square it with the Alienor I've held in my imagination for 50 years, I would have liked it better. As a romance novel--I suspect it is superb (I don't read many--but I think so). As a historical one, just missed my personal taste by a little. But I do recommend it--the book is a good story and a good listen, well-narrated.
I noticed that only one person has rated this book before now, and appears not to have liked it at all. If that listener was unfamiliar with the whole series, it would be easy to understand how difficult it might have been to make sense out of this story. I love this series, and I loved this book. But it is perhaps one that most depends upon knowing and understanding the character of Ian Rutledge up till this point, to allow the book to be interesting and meaningful.
Ian Rutledge is a veteran returned from WWI, injured in body, mind and soul. He feels cautious of other people, has been rejected by the woman he had been engaged to before the war, and has come back to work at Scotland Yard, where he seems to be something of a loner, a man who works best by following his own intuititions. Indeed, he is not exactly "alone," because he suffers from Shell Shock (what we would call PTSD today), and carries within him, the haunting voice of an executed war comrade, along with torturous guilt and memories.
This book possibly is the strongest one in the series, in terms of directly and indirectly alluding to the internal ghosts he is struggling with. The book begins on New Year's Eve, where a woman is doing a seance-like sitting, trying to evoke the dead--which so unnerves him that he has to leave early. He finds shell casings there (and other places) which provoke anxious memories for him. And then his job takes him north, to a spirit-ridden area, where tight-lipped people won't go into the woods, nor reveal why to him because of something that occurred in their past.
The writing of this whole series and especially this book is just word-perfect. I never want one to end. I have read each one in paper, and I'm now coming back to listen--which is a very satisfying experience, as I hear details and grasp more of the psychological aspects of this time in history, and the narration is quite good as well. But even though I recommend this book with as many stars as one could give it, I fully believe this is one book best read only after getting a better sense of what the series/character is about. Otherwise, I can easily understand how disappointing it might have been to listen to--might not have made as much sense in many ways. However, I found it as good as when I first read it, and if one follows the series, this book will most likely be greatly enjoyed at many levels--historical, psychological, good mystery and very unique main character.
I think this is my favorite in the Max Tudor series so far. In this book, Father Max Tudor (a former MI-5 agent and now a priest) has had to leave his village and his pregnant love to go to a nunnery where suspicious events have occurred. He is there to look into the poisoning of Lord Lislelivet, who ate fruitcake laced with something that seemed intended to warn him away.
I thought that beginning (of being poisoned with fruitcake) was either meant to be taken a bit lightly or else it was somewhat awkwardly worked out. But it served its purpose--to get Ftr Tudor to the place where all the mysteries are happening. And unfortunately, things will get worse before they get better.
Let me tell you why I love this series & especially this book. GM Malliet has put this into a convent setting--something that I think it could be challenging to keep interesting for some authors. But Malliet writes with a refreshing dose of modern day observations and comments that are delightfully sprinkled throughout, which contrast with this religious setting where time has all but stood still. She moves deftly back and forth between drawing the listener/reader into the depths of a lifestyle that it is even hard to imagine in this busy world, with comments that remind one that it is indeed taking place in the 21st century.
She has done something else that I think is difficult--she has created a fairly large group of characters, and that can be hard to keep up with in some books. But in this one--the cast of characters are read out in the very beginning--so that was a big help, plus they are so well drawn, that I felt no problem following them.
I think the ending was a little bit too much drawn out--but it turned out to be a complicated situation, and probably needed all the time spent on winding it up. I hope, now that the "seasons" are all used up (in the titles of this series) that Ms. Malliet will still write about Max Tudor. I find this a really enjoyable series, and loved every word of this book. I felt so sorry when it had to finally be over.
I have always enjoyed this series. I believe that Deborah Crombie writes very well--and this was nicely narrated by Gerard Doyle.
In this book, Duncan and Gemma are each dealing with different cases, but Duncan has the greater role, as he is trying to trace the people who seem to have been involved with a frightening bombing incident at St Pancras' train station.
What I really like about this series is that it consistently presents very good mysteries to work out, and the main characters are a touching blended family who always manage to make their kids a priority--despite their busy lives policing. Something I'm noticing though, is that there seem to be so many peripheral characters, that it slightly detracts from Gemma, Duncan, their kids & close assistants in a way that feels (to me) as though the good tension that held with the earlier books is loosening a bit.
Nevertheless, in a series of this sort--where one has followed from the beginning, it is difficult to criticize--expanding acquaintances is the way of life--so it makes sense. But I think I did enjoy the earlier ones a bit more. Still recommend!
A young woman, raised by a group of non-law-abiding uncles, trying to go straight, lands a job as the library assistant in the home of Vera Von Alst--the most hated woman in town. Vera is as prickly as a porcupine, wheelchair bound, and perennially brusque with everyone. Despite that, the few people who work for her do care about her. So when Muriel Delgado mysteriously arrives and upsets the entire arrangement of the household, great suspicion arises. As usual, Jordan Bingham has to take matters into her own hands (with some help from the adoring uncles) to unravel the crimes that have taken place and threaten her (now ex) employer.
This is a really fun series so far. Each book has used a well known author as background, and this time it is Rex Stout, as Jordan channels Archie Goodwin in her mind, for guidance in moving forward to solve the mystery. I suppose this would work as a stand alone, but I think it would be better read in order. Recommend!
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